How did you come up with this concept?
Basically, I missed making pots when I was making instruments, so I figured out how to combine the two! More detailed explanation on the "about" page.
I play the flute. Is this different?
Yes. The idea behind the acoustics and how the sound is produced is the same, but the size, angle, and pitches are all slightly different. In fact, sometimes people who play the flute find it tricky to play the flute handle because it is just different enough from the flute to throw them off. BUT! They always figure it out eventually.
Oh so this is like an ocarina?
NO. Let's be real, an ocarina is a glorified whistle. Flute handles are played similarly to a flute, or like blowing over a bottle opening. This takes a little practice and effort, but that makes it so much more satisfying when you do play it. You gain a skill! You're basically a champion!
Can these go in the dishwasher?
Though it is always best to hand-wash hand-crafted items, they can go in the dishwasher. And the microwave for that matter! *DO NOT put silverware in the microwave!
You can play it, just be careful not to spill! The musical instrument is all in the handle, so the sound isn't affected when the cup is filled.
Can I play when there's liquid in it?/ Does the sound change when it's full?
There is no easy answer to that question. Each piece plays very similarly. The smaller it is, the faster your air needs to be. But the bigger it is, the more air you need to put into it. As far as wind pieces, the mug is probably the easiest, the large circle flutes the most difficult.
Which piece is the easiest to play?
These pieces are all made of porcelain, so they are fragile. However, I like to say that they are "carpet-safe." If you drop a piece on carpet, it probably will not break. If you drop it on tile or hardwood, it probably will break. But they are not more breakable than any other mug you already have in your home.
When thinking of giving musical ceramics to kids as gifts, fragility is one thing to keep in mind. Another thing to consider is whether they will be able to play their gift. It does take some practice. Do they have the patience to take the time to figure it out? If so, then they will love it! If not, maybe wait a few years.
How breakable are these?/ Would these be good gifts for the small children in my life?
This is another tricky question to answer. I make everything in steps and in batches. Mugs I make in batches of anywhere from 25 to 100. If I'm making a batch of 80, it will take me, on average, a full week to complete all of them (before firing them!). And this isn't your 40 hour work week. I work seven days a week, between 8 and 16 hours a day. The very least I work in one week is 60 hours. Of course this also includes maintaining my studio and completing various other tasks that go into running a business that I need to see to each week. In the end, I have my hands on each mug for about 40 minutes. But there is so much more work I have to put in to be able to get that mug to you!
How long does it take you to make one mug?
I put a lot of testing into my instruments, but none of them plays a full scale, and none are traditionally tuned. The clay changes so much from when I begin to working with it to when I have the finished product. It shrinks and expands, and the pitches change along with it. What I have been able to do is figure out where to place the holes in relation to the size of the resonating chamber (the hollow handle) so that the notes all sound good together on each individual piece. The flute mugs all play parts of a blues scale! Could I figure out traditional tuning on all of them? Probably. But it would take so much planning and effort, and my prices would have to reflect that. I'm sure you've noticed that "real" instruments are quite expensive, and I don't want to make mine that pricey! Plus, I don't intend for anyone to play the flute handle in any professional capacity, so I don't sweat it too much.
Are these tuned?/ What notes do these play?/ Does this play a full scale?
Yes! Some things, like hand drums, horns, and flutes, are based on other instruments, obviously. But putting flutes into handles was all me! And as far as I know, I'm the only one doing it.
Was this your idea?
Well. Maybe someday. Thing is, when I thought I was ready for grad school, I now know that I absolutely was not. My work has come so far already since then outside of that environment. I want to keep pushing myself to improve the most I can on my own, then go to grad school when I'm ready to be pushed even harder. I'm going to take everything I can from that experience when I get to it, and I think that when I'm a better artist, I'll be able to get more out of it.
What happened to your graduate school plans?
I travel to shows all over the place, so keep an eye on the "events" page to see if I'm coming to a city near you! I also have my work in the Univeristy of Michigan Art Museum Store in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Staghorn Garden Cafe in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Muggswigz Coffee & Tea Co. in Canton, OH. Also, I live and work in Pittsburgh, so you can always contact me to schedule a studio visit if you're in the area!
Where can I find your work in person?
I'm so glad you asked! Never be afraid to ask something you don't know. A mug is a drinking vessel, often used to drink hot beverages like coffee or tea. Fun fact about mugs: they can also hold liquids that aren't hot, even water!
What is a mug, and how do I use it?